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plant genetic resources for food and agriculture - FAO

plant genetic resources for food and agriculture - FAO

THE CONTRIBUTION OF

THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD SECURITY AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT food needs, particularly for rapidly growing urban populations. This will require a continued stream of new varieties to meet the changing needs and environments in these ‘breadbasket’ areas. A significant share of the increase in staple foods will also have to come from more marginal environments, home to many of the world’s poorest people. A pipeline of new varieties will also be needed for these areas. 8.3.2 Use of local and indigenous PGRFA While local landraces and farmers’ varieties provide the genetic diversity that underpins much modern plant breeding, for many agrarian countries, such varieties still provide the basis for local food production and security. Indeed, this generally remains their main use in situations where they are still grown by the communities that developed them. Furthermore, they may have a number of advantages, especially in the absence of appropriate alternatives: they are adapted to local environmental conditions, fit in with local farming systems, meet local taste and other preferences and their diversity can bring greater production stability. Local varieties may also command premium prices in niche markets and for agrotourism. There are many examples to illustrate this in the country reports and in other publications. In lowland areas of Viet Nam, for example, many traditional varieties are maintained because of their adaptation to local climate, soils and other conditions and are appreciated for their cultural value, productivity, taste and cooking qualities. 12 An analysis of maize landraces in Mexico 13 found that even though new, high yielding varieties were available and supported by the Government, farmers maintained complex populations of landraces in order to cope with environmental heterogeneity, combat the effects of pests and diseases, meet cultural and ritual needs and satisfy dietary and food preferences. There are a number of programmes, such as the “Programa Nacional do Desenvolvimento Rural do Continente” of Portugal, 14 that support on-farm conservation of PGRFA, promote the use of local varieties and build on local and indigenous knowledge to add value. Latin America has reported several programmes 15 that link small farmers and indigenous communities with governmental agricultural research institutions and genebanks to carry out joint activities on collecting PGRFA, on-farm conservation, reintroduction, evaluation and participatory breeding. Niche markets for regional and local products have expanded and with them, the role and importance of local crops. The international Slow Food movement, 16 for example, has had a significant impact on raising awareness in many developed countries of the role of traditional food in local culture, the nutritional value of many local foods and the importance of dietary diversity and reduction of ‘food miles’. Several international initiatives have also supported this trend, such as the growth of ‘fair trade’ systems and the increasing use of ‘geographical indications’ to designate the specific geographical origin of a food item possessing qualities or a reputation that are related to the place of origin. 17 Finally, organic crop production, requiring varieties that are adapted to organic growing conditions, has gained in importance globally and is often associated with initiatives aimed to promote traditional and local food. 8.3.3 Climate change and PGRFA While the effects of climate change are only now beginning to be felt, there is a growing consensus that unless drastic measures are taken its future impact could be enormous. This topic was the main theme of a seminar held in 2009 on the occasion of the First Anniversary of the SGSV. The importance of taking immediate action was addressed in a Summary Statement arising from the seminar 18 that concluded: “…we ask the nations of the world to recognize the urgency of adapting agriculture to climate change, that crop diversity is a prerequisite for this adaptation and therefore that the importance of ensuring that the genetic diversity of our crops is properly conserved and available is a basic prerequisite for feeding a warming world”. Prediction models of the IPCC 19 as well as other reports 20 indicate that there will be severe effects on agricultural productivity in many parts of the world. The news is not all bad, however; some regions, especially those further away from the equator, are expected to have longer growing seasons and will 189

CHAPTER 8 become more productive, as long as high yielding varieties that are adapted to the new environmental conditions are available. Unfortunately, it is expected that regions such as South Asia and Southern Africa are likely to be most affected by climate change; areas of the world that are home to the largest number of poor people and that are least able to cope. 21 In many regions, adapting agriculture to the new conditions will require a shift to more drought-tolerant or heat-tolerant varieties or even to other crops. Changes in pest and disease patterns are likely to take place and indeed may be already happening, resulting in the need for new resistant or tolerant varieties. Less predictable weather patterns may also require the development of new varieties that are adapted to a wider range of more extreme conditions. New varieties will also be needed for agriculture to be able to play a greater role in mitigating climate change. For example, varieties with greater biomass, e.g. that have deeper rooting, coupled with appropriate agronomic practices, can result in the capture of more carbon in the soil. Feed and forage varieties that result in less methane being emitted by ruminants can be bred as well as varieties that are able to use nitrogen more efficiently and need less fertilizer and hence less total energy, but also result in reduced emissions of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Although bioenergy crops were mentioned in only relatively few country reports, there have been significant moves to increase the production of biofuels in many countries in response to growing concerns about climate change and in the face of fossil fuel scarcity. Overall, the difficulties of mitigating against and adapting to climate change are likely to make it considerably more difficult to meet the increased demand for food in the future. The challenge will be exacerbated further by growing competition for land for other uses, such as urban development or for growing new crops. In order to meet such challenges it is essential that greater attention be devoted to conserving genetic diversity and in particular, to targeting the collection and conservation of landraces and CWR that have traits that are likely to become more important in the future. Coupled with this, it is essential that plant breeding efforts be stepped 190 THE SECOND REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S PGRFA up around the world, especially in those developing countries likely to be hardest hit by climate change. This will require greatly enhanced attention to capacity building in traditional as well as modern crop improvement techniques. 8.3.4 Gender dimensions of PGRFA Gender is an important determinant of the extent and nature of the diversity of crops and varieties grown and is a key aspect of sustainable crop production and food security. Rural women are responsible for half of the world’s food production and produce between 60 and 80 percent of the food in many developing countries. Women often have a particular responsibility for managing home gardens and these tend to include a wider variety of vegetables, fruit, spices, medicinal and other crops than is generally the case for fields producing staple-crops and for which men often have a primary responsibility. 22 Gender differences are further evident in varietal choices and the importance placed on different traits. Research in the United Republic of Tanzania, for example, showed differences between male and female farmers in the different importance and ranking they gave to various traits in sorghum. 23 While overall this did not come across clearly in the country reports, it is critical that the role of rural women be better understood and taken into account in policy-making and in all relevant PGRFA initiatives. 8.3.5 Nutrition, health and PGRFA The majority of food-insecure and undernourished people live in rural areas. They are most numerous in Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa. Seven countries comprising Bangladesh, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan account for 65 percent of the world’s food insecure people (see Figure 8.3). PGRFA underpin not only total food production but also nutritional well-being (see Section 4.9.4). The best insurance against nutrient deficiencies is through eating a varied diet, thereby ensuring an adequate intake of all the macro and micronutrients needed for good health. However, many poor people

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    STATUS BY COUNTRY OF NATIONAL LEGIS

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    Appendix 4 State of diversity of ma

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    APPENDIX 4 some country reports. 6

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    APPENDIX 4 option for perennial tax

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    APPENDIX 4 Role of crop in sustaina

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    APPENDIX 4 and Myanmar (3 percent).

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    APPENDIX 4 progenitor is the wild s

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    appendiX 4 Ex situ conservation sta

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    APPENDIX 4 Documentation, character

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    APPENDIX 4 in collections, absence

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    APPENDIX 4 FIGURE A4.5 Global yield

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    338 APPENDIX 4 are also conserved.

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    340 APPENDIX 4 WebPDF/Crop percent2

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    342 APPENDIX 4 90 Op cit. Endnote 2

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    344 APPENDIX 4 159 GCDT. 2007. Glob

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    346 APPENDIX 4 217 Op cit. Endnote

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    348 APPENDIX 4 291 Op cit. Endnote

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    350 APPENDIX 4 366 Ibid. Endnote 35

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    BAAFS Beijing Academy of Agricultur

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    CN Centre Néerlandais (Côte d’I

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    DTRUFC División of Tropical Resear

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    HRIGRU Horticultural Research Inter

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    INIA CARI Centro Regional de Invest

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    IVM Institute of Grape and Wine «M

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    NISM National Information Sharing M

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    REHOVOT Department of Field and Veg

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    SRI Sugar Crop Research Institute,

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    WCMC World Conservation Monitoring

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